I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “It takes a village.” For some reason, every time I heard someone say that, it made me cringe. I was do so much on my own, and I don’t have family nearby. As a single parent with no family near, where was my village? I changed my perspective when my son was diagnosed as developmentally delayed and then eventually with autism. So many people became involved in his education and therapy. Once I started reaching out to other moms and caregivers, I began building my own village.
Time spent advocating and pursuing therapy for Allen and its complexity magnified the necessity of creating a team and the communication involved. Not only speaking with the service providers at school about his progress and communicating Allen’s progress and behavior at home gives them additional helpful insight. I work with Allen’s private speech pathologist and OT. They give me “homework” and strategies to use, and home and we frequently communicate about the progress. At one point, the special education teacher, private OT, behaviorist, and I all worked together to strategize on teeth brushing. I’ve seen such significant progress, and I know it’s because of the open and ample communication with his team.
Assembling a team can be daunting for many reasons: financially, finding appropriate providers who are available and affordable, working with the school district or department of social or developmental services, and the list goes on and on.
I was able to find providers easily. However insurance, finances and other outside obstacles haven’t and still don’t make it easy but it is possible with a lot of resourcefulness and help and kindness from others.
One great resource I found for assembling a team was on Autism Speaks. I find it not only applicable for the first 100 days after diagnosis. It can be useful for anyone who needs a team assembled or maybe team adjusted due to changing needs. I find the tips on interviewing and communicating extremely helpful.
Keeping track of data at home and with the team can be complicated but communication is so important. It assists with generalizing behavior and skills across all environments. Sitting in on OT sessions, learning about sensory processing, receiving sensory diet recommendations and social skills strategies has been invaluable. Waiting for school progress reports or just dropping my son off at therapy isn’t sufficient. Communication is vital and expressing challenges at home can be cathartic and an opening to receiving help.
Team communication isn’t only reserved for teachers, therapists, and outside caregivers. It’s important to educate family members, ask for respite time, exchange ideas with other parents, and join support groups.